Zero Waste Europe is happy to introduce the blog series “Meet our members”. Through this series of monthly interviews we want to give you a chance to get to know our members and the work they are doing.
Meet Michelle Sandmeier
from Zero Waste Switzerland
Hi Michelle, can you give us a brief introduction to Zero Waste Switzerland’s focus?
We are an Association in Switzerland which was founded in 2015 by three women. Since then we have been growing continuously to up to 800 members today. We are working on motivating and enabling people and communities to reduce their waste. Mostly we do this with the help of local ambassadors, all volunteers.
Via our Lifestyle activities more and more businesses and also municipalities are becoming interested in Zero Waste, so we started working with them. We are currently building up and strengthening these possibilities in coaching businesses and cities to become more Zero Waste.
How long have you been in the field and what got you into (Zero) Waste?
I got interested in Zero Waste when reading about Bea Johnson in 2014. I was intrigued by the concept and did quite a bit of research, changing my own habits step by step. I joined Zero Waste Switzerland in 2016.
What is your current role in your organisation?
I am co-president for the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
Tell us more about one ongoing campaign/activity you’re working on?
There is a lot of different activities going on at the moment. Our internal focus is to build up a structure inside of the association to cope more easily with big tasks and build a professional team that can manage all our activities more consistently than we can with volunteers only.
We are also currently strengthening and expanding our ambassador network, enabling our ambassadors to organise activities independently. In order to achieve this we are offering capacity building in personal trainings, webinars and creating possibilities for learning from each other.
Apart from that we are really proud to be able to work with our first municipality, Carouge GE, who wants to become a Zero Waste City. They have set the goal of reducing residual waste by a third until 2020. The first steps are promising and we are looking forward to being able to show we can make a big scale change.
If there was one thing that you would like your organisation to be known for, what would it be?
THE organisation for waste reduction in Switzerland. I would love us to be known as the organisation who made the broad swiss public realise that recycling is not enough.
How would you describe the growth of the Zero Waste movement in your country?
What is your perspective for the future?
The Zero Waste movement is growing in Switzerland. There is a huge potential for waste reduction which we are really hoping to tackle. We are looking forward to working with more companies and municipalities who want to be forerunners and really make change happen.
You can find more about Zero Waste Switzerland and their work here.